HOME      •      SEARCH      •      EMAIL    •     ABOUT

Family Sapindaceae
Colubrina asiatica (Linn.) Brongn.

She teng

Scientific names Common names
Ceanothus asiaticus L. Kabatiti (Tag.)
Ceanothus capsularis G.Forst. Kayaskas (Ilk.)
Colubrina asiatica (L.) Brongn. Paria (Bag.)
Ceanothus capsularis G.Forst. Palialaut (Tag.)
Paliurus asiaticus Noronha Palid-idut (Tawi-tawi)
Pomaderris capsularis Montrouz. Parid-la'ud (Sul.)
Rhamnus acuminata Colebr. ex Roxb. Uatitik (Tag., Bis.)
Rhamnus asiatica (L.) Poir. Asian snakewood (Engl.)
Rhamnus scandens (Lour.) Spreng. Asian nakedwood (Engl.)
Rhamnus splendens Blume Asiatic colubrina (Engl.)
Sageretia splendens (Blume) G. Don Hoop white (Engl.)
Tralianascandens Lour. Hoop withe (Engl.)
Trymalium capsulare G.Don Latherleaf (Engl.)
Tubanthera katapa Raf. Soapbush (Engl.)
  Wild coffee (Engl.)
Colubrina asiatica (L.) Brongn. is an accepted species. KEW: Plants of the World Online

Other vernacular names
CHINESE: Ya zhou bin zao, She teng.
FIJI: Poro, Tartarmoana, Vera, Veravera, Vuso levu.
GUAM: Gasoso.
HAWAII: Vihoa, Anapanapa, Kauila anapanapa, Kauila kukuku, Kolokolo, Kukuku.
INDIA: Neetlapulava chettu.
MALAYSIA: Peria pantal.
NICOBAR IS.:  Inmay.
TONGA: Fiho'a.

General info
• Colubrina is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants in the family Rhamnaceae, native to warm temperate to tropical regions of Africa, the Americas, southern Asia, northern Australia, and the Indian Ocean islands.
Etymology: The genus name Colubrina derives from Latin colubrinus, meaning 'snake=like', referring to the appearance of the twisted stamens. The species epithet asiatica is Latin for Asian, referring to the natural distribution of the species.
• The common name 'Latherleaf' derives from the leaves becoming lathery when crushed. It is used by the Hawaiians, Samoans, and Fijians as soap.

• Kabatiti is a climbing, smooth shrub, reaching a height of 6 meters. Leaves are shining, ovate, 5 to 9 centimeters long, 2 to 6 centimeters wide; with pointed tips, rounded bases and toothed margins. Three nerves arise from the base of the leaf. Flowers are yellowish green, about 4 millimeters in diameter, borne on axillary, short inflorescences which are about 1 centimeter long. Fruit is somewhat rounded, 7 to 9 millimeters in diameter, and surrounded at the base by the calyx, green and fleshy, becoming dark brown with age, and contains three seeds.

• A sprawling shrub or tree up to 5 m tall, with hanging branches. Some individuals may climb up trees. Foliage: Alternate, stalked leaves have saw-toothed edged leaf blades that are rather membranous or thinly papery, shiny dark green, egg-shaped, 3.8–8 by 2–5.7 cm, and tri-nerved at the bases. Flowers:Its Yellow flowers are 3.8 mm wide, and found in 5 mm-long clusters in the angles of leaves. Fruit: Round fruits are 7–9 mm wide, and split when ripe to release up to three grayish-brown seeds. Its dried fruit, and seeds are salt-tolerant and buoyant, being sea-dispersed. (16)

- Native to the Philippines.
- Along the seashore and borders of tidal streams throughout the Philippines.

- Also native to Aldabra, Andaman Is., Bismarck Archipelago, Borneo, Cambodia, Caroline Is., China Southeast, Comoros, Cook Is., Fiji, Hainan, Hawaii, India, Jawa, Kazan-retto, Kenya, Laccadive Is., Lesser Sunda Is., Madagascar, Malaya, Maldives, Maluku, Marianas, Marquesas, Marshall Is., Mozambique, Mozambique Channel I, Myanmar, Nansei-shoto, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Guinea, Nicobar Is., Niue, Queensland, Samoa, Seychelles, Society Is., Solomon Is., South China Sea, Sri Lanka, Sulawesi, Sumatera, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tokelau-Manihiki, Tonga, Tuamotu, Tubuai Is., Vanuatu, Vietnam, Wallis-Futuna Is. (8)
- Highly invasive shrub species especially appearing in coastal habitats. Species has a wide dispersal range: seeds widely dispersed by ocean currents and birds. (12)

- Bark yields saponin.
- Plant extracts yield alkaloid, flavonoid, unsaturated sterol and triterpene, steroid glycoside, anthraquinone, saponin, tannin, phenols.
- Study yielded three new jujubogenin glycosides from the leaves of Colubrina asiatica, together with known colubrin, rutin, and kaempferol 3-O-rutinoside.   (1)
- Leaves yielded two saponins: jujubogenin-3-O-[2-O-acetyl-3-O-(3-O-beta-D-xylopyranosyl-4-O-acetyl-beta-D-glucopyranosyl)-alpha-L-arabinoside] (colubrinoside) and jujubogenin-3-O- [2-O-acetyl -3-O- (2-O- beta -D- xylopyranosyl-beta-D-glucopyranosyl)-alpha-L-arabinoside] (colubrin). (4)
- Study of C. asiatica isolated 16 compounds: six triterpene acids (1-6), five steroids (7-11), one benzoic acid derivative (12), two peptides (13 and 15), one sesquiterpenoid (15), and one jujubogenin (16).
(see study below) (11)
- Study of roots isolated two new ceanothane triterpenes: 3.7-O.O-dibenzoyl ceanothic acid methylester (1) and 3-O-acetyl-6-O-benzoyl ceanothic acid methylester (2), along with nine compounds (3-11). (see study below) (15)

- Considered cooling and alterative.
- Studies have suggest antibacterial, antioxidant, CNS depressant, antimalarial, antimycobacterial, anticancer, foaming, antifungal properties.

Parts used
Leaves and fruits.


- Leaves are edible.

- Decoction of leaves use to alleviate skin irritation and treat a variety of skin diseases.
- Decoction of fruit used as abortifacient.
- In Polynesia, employed as tonic and cicatrizant for wounds.
- In India, leaf juice used as tonic for strength and general debility.
- Nicobarese of Car Nicobar Island used an herbal mixture of Colubrina asiatica and Ochrosia oppositifolia for treatment of gynecologic disorders. Mashed leaves part of a multi-herbal mix of plants boiled in coconut oil and pig fat, and attached by bandage to fractured parts. (17)
- Fish poison: Fruit used as fish poison.
- Soap:
Leaves used as soap, lathering in water. In Samoa and Fiji, leaves are used for washing. (•) In Samoa, a polyherbal mix of flowers of Colubrina asiatica and Citrus macroptera and leaves and flowers of A. zizyphoide is used as shampoo. ()

Jujubogenin Glycosides / Leaves:
Study yielded three new jujubogenin glycosides from the leaves of Colubrina asiatica, together with known colubrin, rutin, and kaempferol 3-O-rutinoside. (1)
Antibacterial / Essential Oil: Essential oils from six medicinal plants were studied for in vitro bacterial property against 15 pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacterial. The combination of essential oils of Litsea chinensis, Piper cubeba and Colubrina asiatica displayed maximum inhibitory response white the rest failed to show any synergistic or potentiating effect. (3) GC-MS study of essential oil from fresh leaves yielded 10 compounds with dodecamethylcyclohexasiloxane highest at 17%, α-cubebene 14%, and dehydro-N-[4.5-methylenedioxy2-nitrobenzylidene]-tyramine lowest at 1.9%. On invitro testing, the EO showed significant activity against Gram+ Staphylococcus aureus. (14)
Saponins / CNS Effects: Leaves yielded two saponins. Both inhibited spontaneous motility of mice and showed an antagonistic effect on amphetamine and a synergistic activity on chlordiazepoxide.
(see constituents above) (4)
Antioxidant: Study evaluated the relationship between antioxidant activity and total phenolic contents in selected common traditional vegetables. C. asiatica exhibited the highest antioxidant activity. The study found no relationship between antioxidant activity and total phenolic contents. (7)
• Antioxidant / Leaves and Stems: Study evaluated the antioxidant potential of crude aqueous extracts of leaves and stems. Phytochemical screening yielded flavonoids, saponins, and total polyphenols. Total phenolic content of aqueous leaf extract was 12.499 mg gallic acid equivalent/g of extract powder in leaves and 0.867 in stem. Total flavonoid contents were 0.8 ± - and 2.8 ± 0.1 mg GAE/g extract in leaves and stems, respectively. Total antioxidant activity by FRAP assay in leaves was 137 ± 4.8 and 170 ± 38 µM Fe2+ in stem. (9)
• Antioxidant / Essential Oil: Study evaluated the antimicrobial efficacy of essential oil and in vitro antioxidant activities of aqueous extract of C. asiatica. On various assays, the water extract showed powerful antioxidant activity, with effective reducing power, free radical scavenging, superoxide anion radical scavenging, hydrogen peroxide scavenging and metal chelating activities at same concentrations, compared to standard antioxidants such as ascorbic acid, BHT, BHA, gallic acid, and quercetin. Essential oil yielded 10 compounds with dodecamethylcyclohexasiloxane highest at 17% and cubebene at 14%. (10)
• Antimalarial / Antimycobacterial / Cytotoxicity / Branches: Study of C. asiatica isolated 16 compounds: six triterpene acids (1-6), five steroids (7-11), one benzoic acid derivative (12), two peptides (13 and 15), one sesquiterpenoid (15), and one jujubogenin (16). Compounds 3 and 10 showed antimalarial activity against Plasmodium falcifarum. Compound 5 showed antimycobacterial activity. Compounds 3,5,6,10 and 14 exhibited weak cytotoxicity against cancer cell lines. (11)
• Pharmacological Activity of Essential Oil: The essential oil does not possess any marked CNS activity. It caused significant reduction in rectal temperature without causing sedation. In anesthetized dogs, the EO produced a marked hypotensive effect and on frog heart it showed a depressant effect, both effects blocked by atropine. The oil antagonized the spasmodic effect of acetylcholine, histamine, and barium on smooth muscle, and blocked the contractile effect of acetylcholine on skeletal muscle.  (13)
• Bioactive Triterpenoids / Antimalarial / Antimycobacterial / Anticancer / Roots: Study of roots isolated two new ceanothane triterpenes: 3.7-O.O-dibenzoyl ceanothic acid methylester (1) and 3-O-acetyl-6-O-benzoyl ceanothic acid methylester (2), along with nine compounds (3-11). Compounds 1 and 2 showed antimalarial activity against Plasmodium falcifarum with IC50s of 4.67 and 3.07 µg/ml, respectively. Compound 2 showed antimycobacterial activity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis with MIC 6.25 µg/mL. Compounds 1, 2, 10 and 11 showed cytotoxicity against three cancer cell lines (KB, NCI-H187, and MCF-7) with IC50s ranging from 8.32 to 46.72 µg/mL. (15)
• Saponin as Foaming Agent / Microwave-Assisted Extraction / Leaves: Studies have reported high amount of active compounds responsible for foaming ability and various bioactivities. Study reported on the optimized microwaves assisted extraction (MAE) process of C. asiatica using response surface methodology (RSM). Extraction of C. asiatica leaves using MAE yielded better quantity and quality of saponin extract. MAE produced highest amount of extract yield in shortest time. The MAE extract showed excellent inhibition of E. coli and B. subtilis growth (11 and 13 mm). The MAE extract contained saponins from group of oleanolic acid (9.57%), ursolic acid (5.64%), and betulinic acid (3.93%). The MAE extract showed good foaming properties and antimicrobial activity due to the presence of saponin.  Results suggest the saponin from C. asiatica extract has potential as natural foaming agent as alternative to conventional chemical-based foaming agent used for personal care, cosmetics, pharmaceutical and food industries. (18)
• Antifungal / Fluconazole-Resistant Candida albicans / Leaves: Study evaluated the antifungal activity of C. asiatica leaf fraction against fluconazole-resistant Candida albicans.  Phytochemical study of n-hexane fraction yielded a steroid compound, and the ethyl acetate fractions yielded saponin and steroid compounds, and the methanol fraction contained flavonoid, saponin, tannin, and steroid compounds. The methanol fraction showed inhibition zones of 5.6, 7.17, 8.25, and 11.4 mm at 10, 20, 30, and 40% concentration. (19)
• Silver Nanoparticles / Increased Antibiotic Activities: Study reports on the reduction ability of aqueous extract of C. asiatica to synthesize AgNPs. The combined effects of AgNPs with antibacterial activity of antibiotics have been studied by Rai et al (2009), and showed the antibacterial activities of penicillin G, amoxicillin, erythromycin, clindamycin, and vancomycin were increased in the presence of AgNPs. (20) (22)

- Wild-crafted.
- Seeds in the cybermarket.

Updated May 2024 / September 2021 / June 2019 / January 2016

IMAGE SOURCE: Colubrina asiatica / Leaf and fruit / Forest & Kim Starr / Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported / Image modified / Click on image or link to go to source page / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Asian nakedwood (Colubrina asiatica) / Steve Hurst @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License / click on image or link to go to source page / USDA
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Asian nakedwood (Colubrina asiatica) / © Ehoarn Bidault / CC BY-NC / Click on image or link to go to source page / iNaturalist
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Colubrina asiatica / Flowering twigs / David Eickhoff / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic / Image modified / Click on image or link to go to source page / Wikimedia Commons
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Colubrina asiatica / Tau'olunga / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Image modified / Click on image or link to go to source page / Wikipedia

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
New Jujubogenin Glycosides from Colubrina asiatica / Shoel-Sheng Lee, Wen-Chuan Chen and Hsiung Chen / J. Nat. Prod., 2000, 63 (11), pp 1580–1583 / DOI: 10.1021/np000225n
Ethnobotanical and phytochemical studies on beneficial flora of Marinduque / PCARRD Commodities
Antibacterial evaluation of some indigenous medicinal volatile oils / A Kar and S R Jain / PLANT FOODS FOR HUMAN NUTRITION, Volume 20, Number 3, 231-237, DOI: 10.1007/BF01104967
Chemistry, 13C-NMR Study and Pharmacology of Two Saponins from Colubrina asiatica.
/ Wagner H, Ott S et al / Planta Med. 1983 Jul;48(7):136-41.

Colubrina asiatica (L.) Brongn. (accepted name) / Chinese names / Catalogue of Life, China
Colubrina asiatic / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED
Antioxidant Activity and Total Phenolic Contents in Selected Traditional Vegetables / Erny Sabrina M N, Abdullah M Z, Nur Daliana Y, Rosali H, and Mohol Shukor N / 21st Annual Seminar of the Malaysian Natural Product Society, 22/11/2005
Colubrina asiatica / Synonyms / KEW: Plants of the World Online
Phytochemical screening and in-vitro antioxidant activities of Colubrina asiatica Brong / Nivas Manohar Desai and Dattatraya Gaikwad / Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research, 2014;  6(9): pp 282-288

In vitro Antioxidant Activities and Antimicrobial Efficacy of Asian Snakewood;Colubrina asiatica (L.) Brong./ Desa9i Nivas, U L Dethe. and F K Gaikwad / Research Journal of Medicinal Plants, 2015; 9(7): pp 307-320 / DOI: 10.3923/rjmp.2015.307.320 
Chemical constituents and biological activities from branches of Colubrina asiatica / Watchara Sangsopha, Kwanjai Kanokmedhakul, Ratsami Lekphrom & Somdej Kanokmedhakul / Natural Product Research. 2018; 32(10) / https://doi.org/10.1080/14786419.2017.1320787
Colubrina asiatica: Latherleaf / CABI: Invasive Species Compendium
Pharmacological investigatons of the essential oil of Colubrina asiatica / A Kar, M K Menon, C S Chauhan / Planta Med, 1970; 18(3): pp 222-226 / DOI: 10.1055/s-0028-1099769
Essential Oil Composition and Antibacterial Activity of Colubrina asiatic (L.) Brong / Nivas Desai, D K Gaikwad / Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Development,, 2014; 2(4): pp 13-17
Two new bioactive triterpenoids ftom the roots of Colubrina asiatica / Watchara Sangsopha. Florian T Schevenels, Kwanjai Kanokmedhakul, Somdej Kanokmedhakul / Nat Prod Res, Feb 2020; 34(4): pp 482-488 / DOI: 10.1080/14786419.2018.1489385
Colubrina asiatica (L.) Brogn / National Parks: FLORA & FAUNA WEB
Traditional medicine of the Nicobarese / Cjotralekha Verma, Shashi Bhatia, Shuchi Srivastava / Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, 2010; 9(4): pp 779-785
EVALUATION OF Colubrina asiatica EXTRACT USING MICROWAVE-ASSISTED EXTRACTION AS SAPONIN-BASED FOAMING AGENT / Nurul Nadrah Binti Mohd Zabidi / Thesis: 2019 - Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Antifungal Active Fraction of Peria Pantai(Colubrina Asiatica (L.) Brong) Leaf Against Fluconazole-Resistance Candida Albicans / Sari Irma, Nursanty Risa, Yulidar Y / Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research and Development, 2021; 9(2) / DOI: 10.22270/ajprd.v9i2.936 / ISSN: 2320-4850
Colubrina / Wikipedia
Biosynthesis of silver nanoparticles mediated by Colubrina Asiatica aqueous extract 
/ Masrina Mohd Nadzir, Nor Ezaney Ibrahim, Farhana Nazira Idris, Siti Farhana Hisham / MaterialsToday: Proceedings, 2019; 16(P4): pp 2403-2407 / DOI: 10.1016/j.matpr.2019.06.145

DOI: It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

                                                            List of Understudied Philippine Medicinal Plants
                                          New plant names needed
The compilation now numbers over 1,300 medicinal plants. While I believe there are hundreds more that can be added to the collection, they are becoming more difficult to find. If you have a plant to suggest for inclusion, native or introduced, please email the info: scientific name (most helpful), local plant name (if known), any known folkloric medicinal use, and, if possible, a photo. Your help will be greatly appreciated.

HOME      •      SEARCH      •      EMAIL    •     ABOUT